Williams cruises to win behind three aces

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Top-seeded Venus Williams tuned up for
the French Open with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over seventh-seeded Anna
Chakvetadze on Thursday to reach the Istanbul Cup semifinals.

Joining Williams in the next round of this clay-court warmup for
the French Open were second-seeded Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech
Republic, third-seeded Anna Smashnova of Israel and Tszvetana
Pironkova of Bulgaria.

Williams had three aces and her serve reached 105 mph against
her Russian opponent in this $200,000 tournament leading to
Monday's start of the French Open.

``It was perfect preparation for Roland Garros,'' Williams said.

Williams said she initially had difficulty judging the serve of
her opponent, who was "trying everything to stay there." In the
rain-interrupted second set, Williams was in command.

Williams will next play Pironkova, who defeated Shahar Peer of
Israel 6-3, 7-6 (4). In other quarterfinals, Vaidisova beat
fifth-seeded Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany 7-5, 7-6 (6), and
Smashnova defeated eighth-seeded Mashona Washington of the United
States 6-3, 6-1.